The day is quickly approaching when the seniors of Pacific University present the research they’ve been working on for months. On Wednesday, April 27 check out these capstone projects that we think would interest social justice workers. The full abstracts of all of the 2016 projects can be found on Pacific University’s website. Cheers, seniors!
“As Samoans and other Pacific Islanders have continued their entry into the high profile world of American football, many within and outside of these communities have commented on what they see as Polynesian dominance in the sport. In this process, sport has become a new site for community recognition, and a focal point for resilient cultural practice. Drawing on her research on the development of American football in Samoa, as well as her years living and teaching in Hawai’i, Dr.Uperesa will discuss how sport has served as a focal point for community agendas, desires, and connection across the Pacific even as the stakes and pressures involved continue to rise.
“There’s too much diversity in the show” was just the first of many racially charged microaggressions committed by my grandmother while we were driving to have birthday dinner with my mom. The conversation about television had started innocuously, but quickly developed into a debate about the “diversity quota” and the “overabundance” of representation. The conversation particularly focused on Shonda Rhimes’ “How to Get Away with Murder.” (more…)
Daniel B. Eisen earned his Ph.D. In sociology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is currently an assistant professor of sociology at Pacific University. His research draws upon critical race theory to examine Filipino ethnic identity development, race and ethnic relations, and the ways in which parents interaction with children in regards to race. He also writes a monthly column on diversity and culture for the Fil-Am Courier in Honolulu, Hawaii. This article was origonally posted in the December issue of the Fil-Am Courier.
Election season is upon us, which brings increased hype and speculation about how a candidate will secure their party’s nomination. This often brings about discussions of how each candidate will secure the support of various racial and ethnic groups. For example, political pundits question how Bernie Sanders can secure the Black vote or how Donald Trump can secure the Latino vote.
While there are issues that disproportionately affect various racial or ethnic groups, constructing issues as “Black” issues or “Filipino” issues is overly simplistic. Every individual exists at the intersection of numerous social identities (e.g., race, social class, gender) and this combination of social statuses shapes the importance that one assigns to any given issue. I do not mean to suggest that race and ethnicity are not important in political decisions and debates, but that the reduction of race and ethnicity to single issues overly simplifies the within group differences and reinforces the stereotypes we hold about various racial or ethnic groups. (more…)
Liz Stevens is a Senior here at Pacific University. She’s an Anthropology and Politics & Government double major, and plans to go on to work in public policy and social justice fields after she finishes her formal education. She’s a non-traditional student who has moved a lot, loves books, Netflix, and video games, and misses having a real kitchen to bake in.
The question of the right to live, to exist as a valued person in this world, usually only brings one issue to mind in this country—that of abortion. But all issues of bodily autonomy, reproductive rights, and fetal rights aside, there is another group that we repeatedly deny the very right to exist: the homeless.
Homelessness is an ongoing issue in this country, one that dates back to colonial days. While most individuals might identify homelessness as a social problem, few would have any idea of how to address it other than ‘make those people get jobs.’ (more…)
The guest writer of this piece is Elsa Hollyer. She grew up in Vermont, and is a junior transfer student from a college in Southern California. She’s majoring in Music Therapy, and minoring in Peace and Social Justice. When she graduates she intends to apply my passion for Social Justice work into the field of Music Therapy
“All…are therefore involved in this oppressive system, and none of us can control whether we participate, only how…” – Allan Johnson
It is not difficult to see all the problems we face on a global, national, or local level in society, if you know what you’re looking for. It is pretty easy to learn about the problems, but it is much harder to actively be part of the solution. As Johnson articulates above, you are either complying with oppressive forces, or you are working to undo them; there is no such thing as neutrality.
As a white woman, it is simply not enough to understand racism and the structures that maintain racism; I have to do more. Knowing about racism is half the battle. There is always more to be done and there is more than one right way to work against oppressive structures. However, the actions we take should be guided by an understanding of the problem we’re combatting and the actual needs of the individuals who are marginalizing, as blind action can actually be incredibly harmful. A recent article entitled “Accomplices Not Allies,” describes some of these individuals as “Floaters.” Floaters are self-proclaimed allies who do not take responsibility for their actions, even when they are detrimental to a social justice cause, and put others in danger. Despite good intentions, these individuals are not great allies. As Dr. Grant says in Jurassic Park, “Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions.” (more…)
Olivia Barrows is a first year student at Pacific University planning to major in International Studies with minors in French and Gender & Sexuality Studies. Barrows came to Pacific from Colorado because she wanted a small school with a positive social outlook, and Barrows says she has yet to be disappointed with that decision.
I came to Pacific from Grand Junction, Colorado. I woke up to the classic Colorado Mountains and sunny skies every morning, but the social landscape waiting for me outside was a far cry from the liberal living space offered up by Boulder and Denver. Instead, I come from a guns blazing, diesel chugging, Planned Parenthood rejecting town. I spent my high school years watching fellow male yearbook editors be recognized for their efforts while I didn’t even get a handshake at the end of the year from the principal. As a result, I entered college unsure of my worth to the world.
So when I finally found a group of people who accepted me and were as passionate about creating social change as I am, it was one of the most heartwarming moments of my life. This happened at the Social Justice retreat. We were pairs, engaging in dialogue about how we fit in with various social justice movements. One of the questions we were tasked with discussing was “why are you involved in social justice?” I answered by verbalizing my commitment to creating a better world for my brothers and for the women who will follow me. There was a point in the discussion when my partner looked at me and said, “I’m so glad to hear you say that. I feel the same way.” (more…)
Talking about social justice is easy when those around you are working for the same issues. The real work begins when you talk about social justice issues with those who don’t see the world through the same lenses. Teach them what you know. Convince spectators to take action. Embrace the uncomfortable. Know that means you’re doing something right.
It’s okay to be vulnerable. Just because you see injustices that other people suffer from, doesn’t mean you don’t suffer from injustices of your own. Your struggles are not any less valid than theirs. Let down your walls. Take time for self-care. Vulnerability is not weakness.
Just because you see your privilege, doesn’t mean you are any less of a social justice worker. Privilege is not something to feel guilty about. It does not mean you cannot do social justice work or that the work you do is less real. Being an ally is a powerful tool.
Never stop learning or listening. If you’re brand new to social justice work or if you have years of experience, consider the value of other’s experiences. Listening to new ideas could very well improve your own movement.
Our guest writer Sophia Backus is a first year student at Pacific University who plans to double major in Creative Writing and Literature with a minor in Editing & Publishing. Originally from Wisconsin, she has lived in Salem for the past three years before deciding to come to Forest Grove for school.
Ten more minutes, I think to myself after glancing once again at the clock. This is what you get for coming to the doctor’s office early on a busy day. There’s hardly any seats and there’s a delay because everyone’s here to get routine procedures done. Despite the mass of people, I don’t have any neighbors. To my right is a table and to my left is an empty chair, a true score. I can use both armrests and spread out after being confined in the car on the drive here. Then, disaster. A new person enters the room. I watch apprehensively as he scans the room and starts to make his way over to the open seat in the room. Half a second before he sits down, I murmur a quick “Oh, I’m sorry,” gather my purse, relinquish the left armrest, and huddle to the right side of my chair. After the cursory smile and nod, he spreads out over the relinquished space, by claiming the armrest and by spreading his legs an inch or so past the armrest of his chair, and pulls out his phone. While this relegates me to three quarters of my chair, he is , the image of contentment.
A flash of rebellion crosses my consciousness, but I squash it down. I did the right thing. That space had to be shared. It would’ve been rude not to move, to keep the armrest within my personal space and not give him room to sit. Though, if I was honest, he wasn’t so much sitting as he was lounging–taking up way more space than necessary. Looking down at my own crossed knees, I frown. I now have no room, I’m confined even more than when I’m driving, and I still have eight minutes before my name will be called. So I pull out my phone and begin to skim blindly through it as my mind only focuses on the tiny space I am now forced to inhabit. (more…)
The guest author of this piece is Madison Thompson, a second year Pacific University student majoring in Philosophy: Ethics, Law, and Society and minoring in Creative Writing. In her spare time, she likes to read, write, surf, play Assassins Creed, and, most of all, play with dogs.
Music’s highest earning musician, Taylor Swift, found herself amidst another controversy pertaining to her newest music video Wildest Dreams. The contention stems from the entirely white cast filming on location in Africa amongst lions, zebras, and giraffe – oh my! Many have taken to the internet to express their support for the video, but surprisingly, the negative seems to outweigh the positive feedback. On the U.S. NPR blog, journalists Viviane Rutabingwa and James Kassaga Arinaitwe wrote: “We are shocked to think that in 2015, Taylor Swift, her record label and her video production group would think it was OK to film a video that presents a glamorous version of the white colonial fantasy of Africa.”
This isn’t the first time Swift has come under fire for cultural insensitivity in one of her music videos. Her hit Shake It Off has been criticized for portraying woman of color as the “ghetto” dancers, while having an all white woman cast for the parts of ballerinas. The singer was also forced to take a step back after a scuffle with Nicki Minaj over what Minaj said to be inherent racism in the music industry.
While she has yet to comment on the discrepencies in the two music videos, in response to the rapper she said, “I missed the point, I misunderstood, then misspoke.”
The problem of cultural insensitivity in the music video rests on the fact that white artists who adopt black culture as their own reap the benefits of another culture that, mainly women, are belittled and trivialized for having. Khloe Kardashian posted a photo to Instagram of herself wearing a niquab (a traditional headdress worn by Muslim women, only exposing the eyes), and many people liked it because “her eyes looked beautiful”, whereas if someone saw a young, Muslim woman wearing the same thing, they might think “terrorist” before anything else.
I think Amanda Steinbleg said it best when she called out Kylie Jenner for posting an Instagram photo of herself sporting cornrows: “When you appropriate black features and culture but fail toyou’re your position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards your wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter.”